New Zealand Rugby Union (NZRU) chief executive Steve Tew has confirmed that leading candidates for the All Blacks coaching position have been approached.
Approximately twenty letters have been sent out to those who are eligible.
NZRU rules dictate that time must have been worked in the senior New Zealand coaching environment (Super Rugby, ITM Cup) level for the last year, or have three years experience in those positions over a five year period.
A review is currently being undertaken by Don Tricker, who oversaw the detailed post-mortem compiled after the All Blacks 2007 World Cup exit.
It is likely that incumbent coach Graham Henry will step down, and while it is largely expected that keen assistant Steve Hansen has the inside running, the process will still take place fielding all eligible candidates.
However Tew confirmed to Radio New Zealand that there would be no high profile poaching from any other country.
Gatland is contracted to Wales until the end of the 2015 Rugby World Cup, and his successes in New Zealand prompted Welsh Rugby Union chief executive Roger Lewis to earlier in the tournament usher a ‘hands off’ caution to other national unions – with Lewis recently suggesting Wales have entered their first golden era since the game went professional.
Deans is signed in with the Wallabies until the 2013 British and Irish Lions tour, although his future beyond that will not be determined by Australian Rugby Union boss John O’Neill, who recently confirmed he would step down at that time and have no involvement in the possible extension of the former Crusaders coach’s contract.
Tew is confident the NZRU can find the ideal candidate without having to compensate other unions.